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Taking the name of the Lord in vain is much more than “OMG,” explains Francis


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA | I.Media

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 08/22/18

In fact, this Commandment is an invitation, more than a prohibition -- to take our Father's name upon ourselves, as he has taken ours ..

Pope Francis today explained that the commandment about taking the name of the Lord in vain has a much deeper meaning than using the name of God offensively or inappropriately. In fact, it is about the rights of our relationship as a child of God.

“We rightly read this [Commandment] as an invitation not to offend the name of God and to avoid using it inappropriately,” the pope said in today’s general audience, as he continued his series on the Ten Commandments.

But this obvious reading of the Commandment is also an invitation to look more deeply at these “precious words,” he said.

Going to the etymology of this segment of the Ten Commandments, Francis looked at the word “take,” “vain,” and the biblical understanding of “name.”

In Hebrew as in Greek, he said, to “not take” refers to: “You will not take upon yourself,” “you will not assume” and “in vain” alludes to the “characteristic of hypocrisy, formalism, and of the lie of using the words or using the name of God in an empty way, without truth.”

Meanwhile, in the Bible, a name gets to the “intimate truth” of things and people. It often speaks to mission, the way Simon was given the name Peter, Rock, as the first pope.


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“The name of God, in Hebrew rites, is proclaimed solemnly on the Great Day of Forgiveness, and the people are forgiven because by means of this name one comes into contact with the very life of God, Who is mercy,” Francis noted.

Thus, “taking upon oneself the name of God” means assuming His reality to ourselves, entering into a strong relationship with Him, Francis said.

And therefore, for Christians, “this commandment is the call to remember that we are baptized ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’ … to live our daily actions in real and heartfelt communion with God, that is, in His love.”

Francis continued: “This Word of the Decalogue is indeed the invitation to a relationship with God that is not false, without hypocrisies; a relationship in which we entrust ourselves to Him with all that we are.”


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“If our real life makes manifest the name of God we see how beautiful baptism is, and how great is the gift of the Eucharist! What a sublime union there is between our body and the Body of Christ: Christ in us and we in Him! United! This is not hypocrisy, this is truth. This is not speaking and praying like a parrot, this is praying with the heart, loving the Lord,” the pope exclaimed.

He then asserted that with the Cross of Christ, “No one can disdain himself and think badly of his own existence. No one. Never! Regardless of what he has done. Because the name of each one of us rests on Christ’s shoulders. He carries us!”

“It is worth taking upon ourselves the name of God because He took on our name unto the end, even the evil that is within us: He took on the burden to forgive us, to put His love in our heart. This is why God proclaims in this commandment, ‘Take me onto you, because I have taken you onto me.'”

The pope concluded by saying that all are free to invoke God’s name, regardless of what situation he or she is in.

“God will never say ‘no’ to a heart that invokes Him sincerely,” he assured.


Read more:
“God has tattooed my name on his hand!” Pope Francis is blown away by God’s mercy

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